In a move transparently aimed at alleviating the $146 billion fossil fuel industry of the cost of cutting down on its environmental pollution, the Trump administration is making its latest attempt to roll back Obama-era regulations for methane emissions from oil and gas wells.
"It's not just a failure to avert bad outcomes; it’'s an affirmative choice to accelerate them." —Seth D. Michaels, Union of Concerned Scientists
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the New York Times, is set to release a proposal this week to weaken the 2016 rule which requires that oil and gas companies closely monitor methane leaks, which are common in the industry's drilling operations.
A study by the University of Reading in Great Britain earlier this year found that just one metric ton of methane emissions has the same capacity to warm the planet as 32 metric tons of carbon—even higher than previous estimates.
This is a very big deal, and will make climate change much worse for no reason other than to make life even easier for fossil fuel companieshttps://t.co/SCYmV98TA4
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) September 11, 2018
Under President Donald Trump's new proposal, oil and gas companies will have to monitor their drilling operations for methane leaks just once every year, or two years in some cases, and will have 60 days to repair any breaches. President Barack Obama's rule mandated that leaks must be identified every six months and fixed within 30 days.
As the Times notes, the rollback could save the oil and gas industries $484 billion by 2025—months after Trump's tax plan added about $1 billion to their annual profits by cutting the corporate tax rate by 14 percent.
this is a straightforward decision to penalize future generations for the short-term convenience of fossil fuel extractors. it’s not just a failure to avert bad outcomes; it’s an affirmative choice to accelerate them. https://t.co/jHP0XG3HeE
— Seth D. Michaels (@sethdmichaels) September 10, 2018
This administration never misses an opportunity to do the wrong thing. This is a disastrous policy and shows why supporting any more fossil fuel development is a mistake. https://t.co/dLfwSa0QVb
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— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) September 11, 2018
Have people forgotten the days when city air was getting impossible to breathe, the Great Lakes died & rivers were literally catching fire? Marching steadfastly backwards against the progress environmental regulation has made-so billionaires can get richer https://t.co/ptYporZvMP
— John Wesley Shipp (@JohnWesleyShipp) September 11, 2018
Meanwhile, the Times reports, the Interior Department is also set to release a new proposal to allow the burning of methane at drilling sites.
Since Trump took office, federal courts have rejected a number of attempts by the EPA to delay or suspend the Obama-era methane regulations, before former agency head Scott Pruitt resigned in July. The new proposals demonstrate that Pruitt's successor, Andrew Wheeler, is equally intent on rolling back regulations in the interest of fossil fuel industries.
The proposal comes as Hurricane Florence heads toward the East Coast, forcing about a million residents of Virginia and South Carolina to evacuate—the latest powerful storm whose large size and intensity scientists have attributed to the climate crisis.
Massive #hurricanes are now something that’s just every other day. Two more line up behind #Florence. The fastest way to cool the earth down would be to stop gas #fracking immediately. The global methane spike has caused a massive uptick in warming. We must #BanFracking now!!!! pic.twitter.com/mOUFd9LpGz
— Josh Fox (@joshfoxfilm) September 11, 2018